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A lot of U.S. Soccer employees were paid more than its world champion women’s coach

Jill Ellis, shown with national team player Samantha Mewis during a match last year. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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The U.S. Soccer Federation this week posted its most recent tax form and, although context is important in understanding the numbers (see below), the optics are not great.

In fiscal year 2017 (April 2016-March 2017), several federation employees earned more money than Jill Ellis, head coach of the world champion women’s national team. Furthermore, she was among only two women in the list of top earners at the Chicago-based, nonprofit organization.

Ellis collected about $292,000 in that time frame. Andi Herzog, Jurgen Klinsmann’s top assistant on the men’s squad at the time, claimed $447,000. Bruce Arena, who replaced Klinsmann in December 2016, received $400,000 in that final month of the year, most of it coming from a signing bonus.

Klinsmann, by far the highest-paid coach in U.S. soccer history, received $3.3 million until his termination in November 2016. Later, he collected $6.2 million in severance because he had been under contract through the 2018 World Cup.

Other officials who were paid more by USSF than Ellis:

  • Dan Flynn, the USSF’s chief executive: $832,000.
  • Jay Berhalter, chief commercial officer: $780,000.
  • Paul Marstaller, director of events: $340,000.
  • Tom King, managing director: $338,000.
  • Brian Remedi, chief administrative officer: $338,000.
  • George Chiampas, chief medical officer: $323,000.
  • Greg Fike, staff attorney: $322,000.

Behind Ellis were …

  • Eric Gleason, chief financial officer: $265,000.
  • Lisa Levine, legal counsel: $252,000.
  • Tab Ramos, under-20 men’s coach: $248,000.

The USSF president does not collect a salary, though expenses are covered. The board of directors is also unpaid.

Levine has since shifted her duties to general counsel of the National Women’s Soccer League, which is administered by the USSF. Her USSF replacement is a woman (Lydia Wahlke).

Now, some context:

  • Ellis could’ve earned more in 2016 but fell short of bonuses when her squad lost to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals in Brazil. Her base salary is now more than $300,000 and loaded with performance incentives, particularly in a World Cup year, which, for the women’s team, next comes in 2019.
  • Several USSF executives were rewarded for the financially successful Copa America Centenario, held at U.S. venues in summer 2016. Berhalter, for instance, made $226,000 more in FY ’17 than in FY ’16. Flynn’s pay went from $709,000 to $832,000. King and Remedi saw small gains.
  • Marstaller and Fike do not typically appear on the list of top earners and carry smaller base salaries than Ellis, but both essentially worked two jobs before and during the 16-team tournament, which was organized on short notice.
  • Besides his U.S. soccer duties, Chiampas is a well-regarded orthopedist who is on the faculty at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and is a team doctor for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.

For a closer look at the USSF’s numbers, the tax returns and financial statements since 2006 are available here.